Monday, March 24, 2008

Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt Wants NCAA To Think About New Safety Rules

Pat Summitt thinks it's time to consider new safety rules in college basketball.

After seeing Oral Roberts guard Mariana Camargo crumple to the ground on top of a cheerleader's sign in the opening seconds of Sunday night's game, Summitt told The Associated Press on Monday that she would support looking into a rule backing cheerleaders, photographers and camera crews off the baseline to help prevent injuries.

"I would certainly be in favor of that," Summitt said.

The issue cropped up Monday, a day after Camargo apparently tore the anterior cruciate ligament while chasing the ball out of bounds off the opening tip.

After the game, Oral Roberts coach Jerry Finkbeiner said he believed Camargo slipped awkwardly when she stepped on the sign. But Summitt and Purdue coach Sharon Versyp, who both watched tape of the game in preparation for their second-round matchup Tuesday night, said the injury actually occurred earlier and that Camargo merely landed on top of the sign.

Semantics or not, players and coaches at the West Lafayette site had mixed reactions to whether anything could - or should - be done to give players more protection.

"I think someone will draft legislation, probably their (Oral Roberts') conference," Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. "It seems like a potential hazard that can be easily avoided. I don't know that we've ever had that happen. I think we've probably kicked a few cheerleaders in the head jumping over them, but they probably got the worst end of it."

Purdue guard FahKara Malone said she doesn't understand why the signs even need to be on the court. She thinks they should be farther away yet close enough that cheerleaders can get to them during timeouts.

And last year's national player of the year, Courtney Paris, said she's never feared a collision on the baseline although those near her might have.

"Most of the time, I think most of those guys are more worried about me falling on top of them," she said. "But I do think people will be more cautious of those things now."

Others don't see the need to jump so fast.

"It's only when you go out of bounds and this was kind of a random situation, unfortunately," Versyp said.

But it's not the first time Summitt has witnessed that kind of injury. Two years ago, Tennessee guard Alexis Hornbuckle broke her right wrist while going after a ball, a play in which Summitt recalled she was trying to avoid a collision with a cheerleader.

Cheerleaders aren't even Summitt's biggest fear.

"Have you looked at those cameras down there? They're huge," Summitt said.

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